First, the vastly popular Indian Premier League cast its huge shadow on a preparatory camp of the Indian national hockey team. And then the build-up to the football World Cup, which is set to start on Thursday, further pushed the ongoing hockey World Cup into the background.The point here is not the significance of the hockey World Cup or the negligible media coverage it received this time around. It’s the abysmal performance of the Indian team that once again brought disappointment to the receding hockey fan base in the country.The Indian men’s team, which is currently ranked a lowly ninth in the world, began as usual on the wrong foot, with a defeat, and then failed to make it to the semi-finals. Now, the team is even struggling to play for pride.Why has hockey, which fetched India eight Olympic gold medals when selfishness among administrators and players is believed to have been much less, slipped into a quagmire? The reasons are many, and it doesn’t require rocket science to uncover them.Honesty and selflessness are the most important aspect for any project or blueprint to succeed. Things like focus, hard work and determination follow automatically when you are honest and unselfish. If these two ingredients are there, scientific planning, use of technology, and infrastructure etc. would also be beneficial.We have lived far too long in the past. It has suited successive administrative set-ups to easily make a fool of fans for many years by invoking the era that fetched eight Olympic gold medals whenever the team didn’t perform up to expectations. They don’t mention the fact that India hasn’t won a World Cup in 39 years and an Olympic gold in the 34 years.advertisementSo, let’s live in the present. Sentiments will take Indian hockey only backwards, as it has done all these years. But it suits the administrators perfectly if fans continue to live in the past and don’t question the current failures.Distributing one-time benefit purses to the great players, strategically just before a World Cup, would not improve the performance of the present team. Make no mistake, this doesn’t mean that that the greats don’t deserve the honour.Or a few minutes of pep talk by a Sachin Tendulkar wouldn’t alter the fortunes of a team. Honesty in every sphere of the game – administration, selection, policy implementation, appointment of coaches etc. – is the dire need of today, perhaps more than ever in the annals of Indian hockey. Let’s run a reality check on all these issues – and above all accountability. But it won’t happen because many people who run the game fear it might expose them, and therefore successive dispensations have got away with murder, so to say. Unfortunately, the media scrutiny of hockey administrators has proportionally lessened over the years, and this suits them perfectly.Few seem to be worried or bothered about the performance of the team. Same would happen this time. When the defeated team returns in a few days from the Netherlands, sports fans would already be drowned in World Cup football fever. Few – including the Sports Authority of India, which provides all the infrastructure and fat salaries of coaches employed by Hockey India – would make an effort to ask tough questions of the people in responsible positions, the coaches, and the players. “Today, hardly anything is done in a proper manner. For example, the selection of selectors is not fair while players are virtually elected these days, not selected,” a top coach told Mail Today. “Although the Hockey India website claims it has drawn out a Long-Term Development Programme, we’ve not been given any.”Both good work and rot start at the top. What we need are clean administrators who quit if teams fail, honest selection of players, accountability and, above all, transparency in all spheres. Selflessness, did someone say that?